Grow Where You're Planted

My offline friends will tell you how much I hate where I live. I moved here to Baltimore as a preteen with my parents and aside from a 4 year stint galavanting around New York State, including 2 years in NYC, I’ve lived in the Baltimore area since. I graduated from high school here. I got married here. We had our son here. I’ve developed my career here.

For better or for worse, Baltimore is home. I can point out The Wire locations. I could give you a photo tour of Hamden, Federal Hill and Catonsville. I can introduce you to “the best crabcakes in Baltimore.”

Historically, though, I hate it here.

In recent years, I’ve considered relocating to Seattle, San Francisco, Toronto, New York, Boston – anywhere would be better than good old Bmore.

The last move consideration was to Toronto where my employer, b5media is located. For whatever reason, I decided that wasn’t a great move for us. And so, we stayed in Baltimore. At that time, I decided that I was going to grow where I was planted. I’m in Baltimore, so I’m going to make the most of the opportunity to flourish here.

So, I began interacting with likeminded people here. (I did expand here to include Washington, D.C. since – it’s really the same place with only a 45 minute drive between us. I began attending as many social media events as I could. In Baltimore, I met , Greg Cangialosi, Steve Fisher, Greg Gershmann and more. (Some of these guys I’ve known for awhile). In D.C., I met Shashi and Shana, Rana and Eric, Jeff, Jonny, Jim and many many more.

Last night, at DC Media Makers I looked around the room (and the subsequent compulsory after-event at Capital City Brewing Company) at 30+ passionate people from very different background and very different lifestyles (Scott Stead comes from CNN, Stowe Boyd has a respectability aura all of his own, Chris Penn dropped in from Boston) and thought – how cool is this scene? Besides Boston, I don’t know of any single social media community that is well defined, interesting and really family-like as the Maryland-DC-Northern Virginia tech community. It’s actually sort of unreal, if I’m honest.

As I made the drive home from DC back to Baltimore, the phrase “Grow Where You’re Planted” kept turning over in my mind. You may not particularly like where you’re at, but you can make a difference in the community that you find yourself in. My take away for the weekend is that, as social media types, you should be doing everything in your power to get out of yourself and help the community grow.

I’m not sure that I have done anything particularly special for this community, but I know that I would rather invest myself in this community than in any other regional community anywhere else in the world.

Aaron Brazell

Aaron Brazell is a Baltimore, MD-based WordPress developer, a co-founder at WP Engine, WordPress core contributor and author. He wrote the book WordPress Bible and has been publishing on the web since 2000. You can follow him on Twitter, on his personal blog and view his photography at The Aperture Filter.

18 thoughts on “Grow Where You're Planted

  1. Aaron, in the short time I’ve known you I’d say you’ve done good things bit-wise and atom-wise. Your presentation last week atom-wise in person was stunning. As I told you yesterday I’m still thinking over it and way to apply the ideas to the brand of me and my organization.

    Thanks!

  2. Aaron – Great post and I totally agree. This area is really starting to kick in. Lots of great, interesting people. That said, I am all for hosting more events here in town at BSF HQ in Federal Hill. Looking forward to connecting again soon.

    – Greg

  3. Yeah,

    Technically, I hate it here too. But that hasn’t stopped me from meeting a ton of awesome people. A year and a half ago, Andy Carvin, Carl Weaver, and I all moved here and, inspired by Steve Garfield’s Boston Media Makers group, we started up DC Media Makers. We found like minded people like Jill Foster and Scott Stead and boom, before we knew it we started connecting to more and more folks. Now with Twitter is like social scene building on crack! Good crack though. It’s actually a lot of fun to grow a scene. You are doing it, we’re all doing it. Group hug!

  4. Wow, I just heard a new word from @shashib yesterday – coincidensity; perhaps I’m having some here. I have had my own mirrored experience as you articulate yours here … including, of late, deciding to interact with like-minded people here and to “expand local relationships through social technology.” In the last week, I’ve started to feel a shift, as though I’m happy and I want to be here. I want to develop even deeper my relationships and connections. And I feel that the social media component is part and parcel of this shift.

    Thanks for your personal reflection. I can see myself here. And, more n’ likely, I’ll see you at Dobbin Starbucks real soon.

  5. It’s been interesting to note that other people have had similar thoughts lately as myself and come to their own choices about what is best.

    For me, I started getting integrated into Boston’s community and have felt at home here for months, something that’s never really occurred to me any place else in the world. So. I’m home.

    Looks like you are too.

  6. Aaron, I love the title of this blog. Grow Where You’re Planted. I’ve done the opposite, living in a number of places sometimes at once but I think the same recipe applies. Making the most of where you are. There is always some kind of networking opportunity wherever I am, the smaller the place, the bigger the challenge. I find that when I am in a small place (like Kauai)balancing my off-line relationships with on-line friendships rounds out my experience and keeps conversation I can bring to my small town friends fresh and interesting.

  7. I was in my first year of college when I first heard those words. It was during the orientation for us newbies and the student council president then uttered that exact sentence. Grow where you’re planted. I’m from an exclusive all girls school and truth be told, it wasn’t a real choice for me. But I was already there and so I decided to do my best. And I’m proud to say that I have grown a lot. I have acted on opportunities I otherwise might not have done in another school.

  8. I love your post. I live in Satellite Beach, FL, having moved back home from San Francisco, a city I really loved, to be near my family who live here. While Satellite Beach hasn’t nearly the amenities, it has the people I love most.

    Like you & Baltimore, I’m learning to make the best of this place. I’m finding out now (as you did about DC) that there are likely resources in Orlando that I need to tap into more actively.

    Thanks for your post; it’s a brilliant reminder of what I might find if I start to look in my own back yard.

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